This was going to be a post about the stew and soup I made this weekend (both really really good), but then we had this delightful day that included playing in the snow and making pizza and dancing in the kitchen and coloring and lots of toddler giggles as snow continued to fall outside, so I am sharing this story + recipe instead.*
(More than Just a) Simple Pizza: A Cooking Experience
Before you begin to make this simple pizza, set the scene. Having music on is a very good thing. (Current favorite is radioIO Acoustic Café using the Pocket Tunes App for ipod/iphone.) Then have your family nearby so you are reminded that you are making this meal for people you love. Of course, being totally solo in the kitchen singing along with Adele is an equally delicious way to approach this meal, and since this pizza isn't huge, it would be perfect for dinner for one and then lunch the next day.
Then, take premade pizza dough from the fridge, remove it from the bag, and let it sit for 20 minutes on a floured surface. (My friend Christine recently mentioned that Trader Joe’s has a great pizza dough in their refrigerated section, so we tried it today. It is awesome! Your local store should have Pillsbury or another brand near the pre-made cookie dough if you don't have Trader Joe's nearby.)
Preheat oven to 450.
Next, gather your toppings. Cut up your veggies; then find the cheese you want to use and put it in a pretty bowl just because it makes you happy. When someone says, “We are going to have more cheese than that, right?” you can reassure him that yes, we will but this bowl looks pretty for photos.
At this point you might realize you have 12 minutes until your 20 minutes are up. Here are some options:
a) Dance with your family in the kitchen to a song or two.
b) Fill one more grocery sack with items from your cabinet full of too many glasses and put on the porch to take to Goodwill.
c) Give your one year old her very first orange pepper slice and then proceed to feed her about 10 more pieces because she keeps saying, “good!”
d) Begin to clear the table of all your beading supplies so you can sit at it to eat.
e) All the above (as you realize 12 minutes is much longer than you think).
f) Make a quick salad that would pair nicely with pizza and give you more greens. (Next time. Yes. Next time)
Now you are ready to roll out the dough onto a floured surface. It is a good idea to let go of having a round pizza, especially if the surface you are using is rectangular. (And when you cook it, it somehow finds its way to being mostly round. Of course, later I thought about how I would roll it out on the pizza stone next time. Ahem.) And if someone stronger than you is around and offers to roll it for you, well, say yes. (It wasn’t that hard though and reminded me of standing at the window at Noble Romans watching teenagers make pizza decades ago.)
(Now this next step is one you should insert up there right before “dance with your family,” but when it comes at this point instead, give yourself permission to roll with it.) Next, remember that you have chicken sausage in the fridge that you want to add to the pizza.
Cook the sausage if you are adding it. If someone else is cooking it (thanks Jonny), you might be able to wire-wrap 10 beads and dance with your daughter.
Next, put pizza dough on a pizza stone if you have one (if not, use a pan). Then, assemble your pizza. I layered as follows: olive oil, thin layer of cheese, mushrooms and orange pepper and small bits of chicken sausage, then lots of cheese.
Bake for 8-12 minutes. You know it’s done when the bottom of the dough is browning. I baked ours for about 15 minutes though and it was perfect, so do adjust the time based on your oven and dough thickness.
When you take it out, gather your family to oooh and ahhh at the pizza’s beauty.
Take a few photos.
Have toys on hand for your toddler to play with when she decides she is full from all the pepper slices and won’t eat while you are eating. She can color or build things and you will be much more likely to enjoy your pizza if she is content.
Because this is a food that Ellie eats and since it really was so easy to use this dough (and felt really satisfying to roll it out and even has me thinking about making my own dough), I imagine making pizza a few times a month and sometimes making it for the two of us for lunch during the week (EJ and I are more likely to do no meat, less cheese, more veggies). So, this means, I am totally creating a pizza Pinterest board to save recipes I want to print out and add to my recipe binder. Just started using the binder because I am learning that I simply need that “oh right, I could make pizza this week” reminder that seeing a recipe in a binder gives me.
An invitation: I would love to know your favorite homemade pizza toppings/recipes. Please share them in the comments.
*The story behind the story: In some ways, this is the most important paragraph of this blog post, so I hope you made it to here. In the past few months, there haven’t been a lot of days that could be described like the romantic “wow, aren’t they lucky?” paragraph that begins this blog post. There are moments of beauty and love each day, but there have also been some of the toughest moments Jon and I have experienced as a couple. Today, as I wrote this post, I kept thinking about how the slight changes I have been making as I continue to focus on leaning into whole(ness) have been creating space for more laughter, for listening, for sharing (because we are talking with one another when we sit at the table), and for intimacy as we work together in the kitchen or as he talks to me while I cook or as we read or work together after she goes to bed (or naps) because we just want to continue to be together and not turn the television on.
Here is a simple version of this recipe in case you have a binder like me and would like to print it out.
The "Anyone (this means you too) Can Use Premade Dough" Pizza
Premade refrigerated pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)
Veggie toppings of choice
Meat toppings of choice (I used Trader Joe’s breakfast chicken sausage)
Cheese of choice (I used pre-shredded mozzarella from Trader Joe’s)
Olive oil (I used Annie’s infused with basil)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. UPDATE: I now heat our oven to 500 so it takes less time.
- Take dough out of packaging and let sit 20 minutes on floured surface.
- Chop veggies, cook meat if applicable, grate/slice cheese as needed.
- Roll pizza dough into a round(ish) shape, continuing to keep surface floured to avoid sticking (it’s a good idea to follow directions on your dough’s packaging).
- Spread olive oil over dough.
- Add toppings of choice (keeping to thin layers to avoid weighting down the dough)
- Bake for 8-12 minutes (longer as needed depending on oven/dough thickness).